Inside-Out Carrot Cake Muffins
Aaron loves carrot cake. That is an understatement. So, each year, on his birthday, I make him a carrot cake. Check out this Carrot Cake I made him last year. As much as I love perfecting a recipe, I also like trying new things, so I made some Inside-Out Carrot Cake Muffins. D-E-L-I-S-H!! The cream cheese center is a lovely surprise, and the muffin was to die for.
I didn't always like carrot cake - I found them to be either too sweet, or too dense and sometimes both. Until I came across this recipe in the Williams Sonoma CAKES book. Yes, I know it is a cake recipe but technically, it is meant to be baked, so I made muffins instead. :) There is a key ingredient in this that makes the muffin or cake so moist and just sweet enough but not overpowering at all.
The kinda heart-shaped center in the picture was done by the muffin on its own, and not by me.
Try out this recipe and enjoy some delicious muffins with friends and family.
Unsalted butter and flour for preparing the pans
For the cake, ahem, muffins:
2 cups (10 oz/315 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
2 cups (1lb/500 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canola oil
2 cups finely grated carrots
1 can crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained
1 cup of finely chopped walnuts
For the cream cheese frosting:
1/2 lb (250 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
For the topping:
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven and prepare the pans:
Position a rack in the lower middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Farenheit (180 degrees C). Butter the muffin pan(s). Insert the muffin liners in pan. Butter the paper, sprinkle it lightly with flour and then tap out the excess flour. Or just spray them if you are like me and don't want to add one more step :)
2. Mix the batter): IMPORTANT: When you get to adding the flour, turn off the mixer, remove the bowl, and just stir gently. If you mix too much, the dough will stiffen and your muffins will convert to hockey pucks.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and granulated sugar. Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer with twin beaters. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it thickens and the color lightens slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly pour in the oil, mixing just until blended, about 1 minute. Turn off the machine, remove the bowl, and add the flour mixture and mix just until no white streaks are visible. Add the carrots, pineapple, and finely chopped walnuts and stir until evenly distributed, 1-2 minutes.
3. Make the frosting
Use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer or the twin beaters on a hand held mixer to mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the confectioners' sugar until smooth.
Spoon the batter, using a tablespoon cookie dough scoop or a tablespoon, into the muffin pan. Put in one scoop of batter, then one scoop of cream cheese frosting in the center on top of the batter, finish it of with a final scoop of batter. Make sure the batter covers all of the frosting but leave enough room for it to rise. Bake until the tops look evenly browned, feel firm to the touch, and a thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, I would say for about 15-20 minutes and then check to see if they are done. Let cool for 20 mins. If you want a slight firm center, let it cool for the whole time. If you are impatient and don't mind gooey, cream cheesy goodness running all over your fingers, pry one out with a knife and bite into the deliciousness call the Inside-Out Carrot Cake Muffin.
You will love it!